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Environ Int. 2003 Mar;28(8):711-7.

Biomarkers and community indices as complementary tools for environmental safety.

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  • 1E.B.S.E Faculty of Sciences, rue Delestraint, 57070, Metz, France.


Research on biomarkers as early bioindicators of perturbation in populations and individuals has been gaining ground over the last decade. This ecotoxicological approach relies on the fact that changes occur at low levels of organization before the community is affected and thus they can be monitored to assess environmental safety. Changes may concern behavior, physiology, biochemistry, or genomic structure and functioning, and may impair population dynamics in the long-term. Ecotoxicity studies based on biomarkers allow us to measure the impact of environmental stressors and to easily follow the evolution of the systems towards degradation or restoration. Over and above their use as simple indices of exposure to specific pollutants, biomarkers can give an insight into ecosystem health. The results of our experience in field studies involving ecotoxicologists and ecologists will be presented in order to illustrate the relevance of such an integrating strategy for environmental quality assessment.

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